Readers Panel: Should GP receptionists be trained to direct patients to alternative services?
An initiative to train GP receptionists to ‘navigate’ patients to pharmacists, physiotherapists and other services if they do not need to see a doctor has been trialled in England. Nursing Standard readers have their say.
An initiative to train GP receptionists to ‘navigate’ patients to pharmacists, physiotherapists and other services if they do not need to see a doctor has been trialled in England. Nursing Standard readers have their say
Linda Drake is a practice nurse in London
Well trained and sensitive reception staff are ideally placed to become care navigators, directing patients to appropriate care. Many patients are unaware that an extended range of services are available in the community. Locally we have Pharmacy First, where patients exempt from prescription charges are able to obtain over-the-counter medicines free of charge. Reception staff can direct patients to self-referral services, saving GP appointments for those who really need them.
Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London
Upskilling staff in principle is a good approach. However, I would want to know more about the type and quality of the training. A patient who was wrongly screened could risk missing out on early diagnosis and treatment. This would be to the detriment of the patient and could also affect the receptionist. We should be educating the public about the appropriate use of GPs instead of relying on reception staff.
Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London @drew_london
I refer a lot of my patients to other services because they don’t know how to access them. A one-stop-shop where patients can be directed to other NHS services would be wonderful. Traditionally, GP practices have been a patient’s gateway into the NHS and this scheme makes use of that. Making access to NHS services easier can only benefit patients. After all, does it take a GP consultation to refer a person to podiatry or physiotherapy?
Daniel Athey is a charge nurse on an acute medical unit in Sheffield @danjathey
This sounds like an excellent idea, but similar things have been trailed in emergency departments with mixed results. While the majority of schemes to reduce pressures do a good job, the isolated cases where people are denied treatment they need are the ones that make the headlines. In the current climate, common sense and logic have to take a back seat to covering ourselves legally.